Steve Moran

Steve Moran

Racing never ceases to surprise, does it? On Wednesday, apparently, a new chief executive of Racing Australia will be announced.

This person has been selected by a four person panel including David Moodie, who stood down from his position as Racing Victoria chairman in October pending an integrity investigation; and John Messara who has announced his resignation as chair of Racing New South Wales and Racing Australia.

All seems a bit Monty Python like to me.

Who are they accountable to? The peak state bodies from which Mr Moodie and Mr Messara were nominated? Hmm.

Ah, it must the federal racing minster, right? Although I’m not sure we’ve got one of those. Maybe it sits with Sussan Ley’s portfolio of Health, Aged Care and Sport. Well, certainly aged care and racing could go hand-in-hand.

I did search ‘horse racing’ on one government site linked to Ms Ley and the response came up ‘did you mean horse radish’. I kid you not.

I know it’s an old chestnut, pardon the pun, but what is Racing Australia? Does it need a chief executive, does it even need to exist in it’s current form? I reckon it needs to exist in a much more serious form.

I’m pretty sure there used to be an ARB (Australian Racing Board) website but now it’s disappeared into the anonymity of a few lines right at the very bottom of the home page of the Racing Australia website.

Can’t see that it’s done much in recent years other than, presumably in a bid to give itself some relevance, introduce the minefield of minimum mandatory penalties which has been long debated by finer legal minds than those at the ARB (sorry, Racing Australia) and which is almost certainly about to raise its ugly head again in the case of jockey James McDonald.

Not sure why a sport-industry which has as many grey areas as racing, wanted to jump aboard the mandatory minimum penalty bandwagon and leave itself no room for manoeuvrability and imply no faith in racing’s judiciary.

Many lawyers have consistently argued that mandatory minimum penalties do not work in a preventative sense and can have unjust outcomes plus impose undesirable restrictions on judicial discretion and independence and undermine fundamental rule of law principles.

In racing, there wasn’t even consensus when it happened with Victoria initially breaking ranks with the ARB decision, shortly after it’s introduction in 2013, and said then it would not enforce a mandatory minimum penalty for infractions such as jockeys betting.

Ah, consenus. That’s obviously been Racing Australia’s charter – to ensure harmonisation. Lovely word, isn’t it? In racing, it’s been bandied about for some time now and is supposed to mean everybody works under the same rules. Alas, they are not even standard around Australia, let alone around the world.

Which is why there was absolutely no problem for Michelle Payne to hold a joint licence in Victoria but use only one of them in Queensland. Well, no problem in the end anyway.

And why poor Raquel Clark cannot ride in Melbourne despite her accomplishments in Tasmania. It’s just all bloody silly.

Anyway, this is not about ‘bashing’ anyone or any body. And in the spirit of ‘don’t come to me with the problem if you don’t have the solution’ here goes:

It is time to begin the gradual disbanding of racing state governing bodies and make Racing Australia a true overarching management body. As is the case with the management of the population, we have one too many tiers of government. And the timing may well be right with RVL still in search of a CEO.

Let’s get Peter V’Landys to take on the role in Victoria as well as in New South Wales. Ha, plenty of people just choked on their cornflakes in Melbourne. Well, that’s if Winfried Englebrecht-Bresges doesn’t want the job.

The point is we need one national governing body and the best men for the job, in management, wherever they may hail from.

The right model is one national body and the individual racing clubs which, on the whole, have become dynamic.

Now, I’m a card carrying compassionate, socialist, hedonist (I’ll explain that to you over a nice Pinot some time) so I don’t advocate we sack everybody at RVL and RNSW tomorrow but surely we can begin the process of natural attrition through retirement, redundancies and those who simply choose to leave.

You can put it in the ‘too hard’ basket and I fear that will be the case because nothing is ever usually rebuilt before it’s razed to the ground. Which is basically what happened in South African racing in the 1990’s.

We could wait while costs and inefficiencies rise and while revenues are attacked by other forms of wagering…or we could act now.

PAKENHAM CUP DAY:

Race 7 – Pakenham Cup (Listed, 2500m)
On a tough day, where I will be investing cautiously, I am keen on Swacadelic (Adlerflug) each way. His form is simply superior in my view. He comes back in trip, admittedly, from the 3200 metres of the Sandown Cup (Listed) but his head second to the Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) fourth Qewy (Street Cry) is a strong credential for this.

Earlier in the program, I expect the following three females to run well at double figure odds.

Race 3 – Dream Food (Snitzel) on the basis of her excellent first-up record.

Race 4 – Mossbeat (Mossman) who comes back in class after satisfactory effort at Sandown.

Race 5 – Madam Mouton (Sebring) who ran so well, last time, at her first appearance on a good rated track. Drawn the widest so be mindful of any pattern on the day.

Trifecta play: Race 3 – box 1, 5, 8, 13, 14. ($30 for 50 cents unit).